What is it about this funny show that keeps everybody watching? How can such familial dysfunction exist? Read on for some thoughts on the celluloid family named Barone.
The likes of Ray Romano never flashed across my living room screen until the week the show, Everybody Loves Raymond, went off the air. For whatever reason, I never turned the program on, but I have made up for lost time since the show left prime time and went into re-runs. The course of family dysfunction rarely runs smooth, but in this case, it couldn’t be a more rewarding television experience.
For Ray Barone, reluctant husband, sports writer and “momma’s boy,” confrontation is a dirty word and he will even lie sometimes to avoid it. However, there is such a lovable quality to his persona that it’s almost forgivable. Doris Roberts is the ultimate interfering mother-in-law and she does it with all the grace and charm of a Mack truck; you don’t know you’ve been hit until it’s too late. Who could ever forget the episode where she and her husband, played by crusty and wonderful, Peter Boyle, crashed their car into Ray’s living room? She enters her son’s home without knocking (every episode), and seeing her daughter-in-law cooking at the stove she kindly asks: “Lose another meal, dear?”
The sarcasm and dialogue are deep and realistic. Ideas for the stereotypical interfering mother were actually based on both Ray Romano and producer Philip Rosenthal’s exaggerated but nevertheless personal exposure to some mothers it would be best to remain unnamed. Poor Robert Barone and his sibling rivalry with older brother, Raymond whom “Mom always loved best.” “It’s all about you, isn’t it Raymond,” resonates from his policeman lips in almost every episode. And Debra, played so deftly by Patricia Heaton, occasionally has enough of her meddling mother-in-law and stands up to her, but not enough. For the most part, she suffers sweetly. She is the perfect foil to her husband as her character is more mature and always tries to make the best of every situation.
Peter Boyle is in a class by himself as Frank Barone. His favorite expression, “Holy Crap” can be heard in almost every episode, but his timing is so perfect that it always comes across as fresh and new.
What are some of YOUR favorite episodes?